Steven Keehner, assistant opinions editor, is a junior journalism major with a minor in history.
Despite how one may perceive the title of this op-ed, I will not be focusing on the Capitol riots.
Instead, I want to draw attention to the recent police killing of Patrick Warren, Sr.
Like most police killings, Warren’s death followed an all-too-familiar pattern. An officer was sent in to address a mental health-related situation he couldn’t handle and as a result, another unarmed Black man became victim to a power-hungry cop who decided to be the judge, jury and executioner.
Instead of critiquing the left and right, I’d like to address those celebrating Trump’s impeachment and the detachment from reality that continually gets swept under the rug.
There’s this perception I have seen on social media, that Trump’s second impeachment was meaningful, that there was a victory to be celebrated in all of this. Here’s the reality: Trump, who was acquitted in his second impeachment trial, has walked away scot-free from any consequences for not only the Capitol incident but everything he’s done over the past four years.
I could be putting my foot in my mouth here, but I can’t help but point out what appears to be obvious. Anyone who really thinks that Congress, which has been historically unproductive, will do anything impactful doesn’t understand the structure of power within this country. One which continuously allows for those already with power to live above the law, while those below them have to meet the same standards that the powerful themselves enforce.
If we’re going straight for the jugular, we could look at how almost every president post-WWII has committed some crime, coup or other illegal act that they’ve all walked away from without consequences.
If American leaders aren’t held accountable on the world stage — how can we expect that internally?
I find it ironic that on the same day so many Americans can celebrate the political-equivalent of Trump receiving a slap on the wrist, Black people and those who struggle with mental health issues are shown that their lives aren’t worth anything, again.
To put it simply, the roots of America have been corrupt for too long.
I’m not claiming it was worthless to celebrate Trump’s impeachment at all. But you probably wasted more energy on it than you should. The spectacle of American politics, which even I fall victim to (I could watch John King and that big touchscreen board all day) often takes us away from reality.
White supremacy has been rearmed and given a platform that hasn’t been as outright and threatening in some time; the comfort that anti-minority rhetoric has in daily political discourse is absurd. However, to dismiss this as something outside of one’s control is just as enabling as any speech or law that has gotten us to this point.
The complacency of so many anti-Trumpers is almost as bad as the outright ignorance often seen on the right. Equality and equity are worth more than likes on social media — it’s a literal matter of life and death for vulnerable people. Perhaps that’s an understated issue of social activism being tied with the internet; along with getting the incredible benefits of being able to share news, stories and other teachable tools, you also get, well, tools.
But between that and the general lack of critical thinking, it makes me wonder who is more dangerous: those who enforce these systems of violence, or those who perpetuate them? To take joy in the triumphs and “victories” while placing cases like Warren into a mindset of “This is a shame, but it’s outside of my control” is exactly how these systems of violence maintain relevancy.
That’s the “tale” of two Americas that I’m talking about: one of looking the part and one of actually acting upon one’s beliefs. If you believe that America won, think about Warren and every victim of a system that allows for his death. The rotten apple has long past ruined the surrounding bunch — how many more times do we have to see this same story occur to realize that?